Fox News host Jesse Watters received a lot of advice from his mother on air on the very first night of his show on the network in which he replaced a primetime slot previously hosted by Tucker Carlson.
Watters’ mother has sent critical text messages to her son since 2017, when he became co-host of The Five. Later, producers introduced a segment called “Mom Texts” in which he regularly read aloud his mother’s texts to him.
On his first night as Carlson’s replacement on the 8pm ET slot on 17 July, his mother started by congratulating him.
“Congratulations, honeybun. We are so proud of you and your accomplishments ... Now let’s aim to have you keep your job. And to that end, I do have some suggestions,” she told her son on his Jesse Watters Primetime.
“Do not tumble into any conspiracy rabbit holes. We do not want to lose you and we want no lawsuits, OK?” she said.
The lawsuit filed by the company alleged Carlson and other Fox News personalities and their guests amplified bogus statemenets and conspiracy theories about the 2020 presidential election.
“I want you to seek solutions, versus fanning the flames,” Ms Watters told her son.
She told him to “use your voice responsibly, to promote conversation that maintains a narrative thread.”
“There really has been enough Biden bashing. And the laptop [Hunter Biden’s laptop controversy] is old,” she added.
“Perhaps you could suggest that your people take less interest, for example, in other people’s bodies, and talk about that,” she said, a likely reference to his ongoing segments ridiculing transgender people and his commentary on abortion. (Last year, Watters called a very real story about a 10-year-old girl who needed abortion care a ”hoax” and “politically timed disinformation”, then tried to take credit for putting “pressure” on the investigation after a suspect was arrested.)
She also mocked Donald Trump by referring to him as “that Bedminster friend” of her son’s.
“You could encourage that Bedminster friend of yours to return to his earlier career on television. Everyone in his audience could wear a red hat and I’m sure the ratings would soar, although never as high, my darling, as yours,” she said.
Ms Watters also urged her son to take cognisance of the Hippocratic Oath – “do no harm” – and to “be kind and respectful”, even though she acknowledged that her son mentioned the idea of him being “humble” might be “a stretch”.
Watters’ honed his reputation on the network with brash, offensive man-on-the-street interview segments and deliberately provacative commentary that has drawn widespread criticism and accusations of sexism, racism, homophobia, transphobia, and election denialism, including incendiary statements aired days before the attack on the US Capitol.
Unlike Carlson, who arrived at Fox after on-air roles at competing networks, Watters is something of a Fox company man, moving up in the ranks over more than 20 years while adopting the hostile posture and talking points of some of its biggest stars, with a self-satisfied grin.
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